"I've thought this through and talked to colleagues and I've reconsidered," says New Yorker editor David Remnick about Bannon's inclusion at the event. "I've changed my mind."
The New Yorker has pulled the plug on a planned appearance by Steve Bannon at an upcoming event after other attendees, including Hollywood stars, threatened to walk.
"I don't want well-meaning readers and staff members to think that I've ignored their concerns. I've thought this through and talked to colleagues -- and I've re-considered," said New Yorker editor David Remnick in a lengthy statement. "I've changed my mind. There is a better way to do this."
He went on to add that "if the opportunity presents itself I'll interview him in a more traditionally journalistic setting as we first discussed, and not on stage."
A statement from David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, explaining his decision to no longer include Steve Bannon in the 2018 New Yorker Festival. pic.twitter.com/opayiw5GQ2— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) September 3, 2018
As news of the former White House chief strategist's headlining appearance spread on Monday, more and more of the festival's celebrity guests began to makes waves as they took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction at his inclusion, and ultimately began to threaten to back out of their own scheduled appearances.
Jimmy Fallon, Jim Carrey, Judd Apatow, Patton Oswalt and John Mulaney were all scheduled to appear, but one by one they began to make it clear that if Bannon were the headliner, they wouldn't be showing up at all.
If Steve Bannon is at the New Yorker festival I am out. I will not take part in an event that normalizes hate. I hope the @NewYorker will do the right thing and cancel the Steve Bannon event. Maybe they should read their own reporting about his ideology.— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) September 3, 2018
I'm out. I genuinely support public intellectual debate, and have paid to see people speak with whom I strongly disagree. But this isn't James Baldwin vs William F Buckley. This is PT Barnum level horseshit. And it was announced on a weekend just before tix went on sale. https://t.co/oYk1llNgvV— John Mulaney (@mulaney) September 3, 2018
Bannon? And me? On the same program?— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) September 3, 2018
Could never happen.
I'm out. https://t.co/JkIOGqCxaM— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) September 3, 2018
The outrage expanded beyond just the scheduled attendees, with several more political and Hollywood figures expressing their dissatisfaction at Bannon's inclusion in the three-day event.
For anyone who wonders what normalization of bigotry looks like, please look no further than Steve Bannon being invited by both @TheEconomist & @NewYorker to their respective events in #NYC a few weeks apart. https://t.co/u0TDfCYrQ1— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) September 3, 2018
Hey, New Yorker, I'm happy to come see Steve Bannon speak at your festival if Robert Muller is asking the questions.— Whitney Cummings (@WhitneyCummings) September 3, 2018
He created an online home for white nationalists to groom and grow their violent base. He cemented his destructive white supremacist views into the DNA of the White House. Now, New Yorker is selling tickets to see him headline. And here we are, folks. https://t.co/JyK8J13Zko— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 3, 2018
because ...? https://t.co/3tqGlys7SM— Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) September 3, 2018
In the end, Remnick bowed to the pressure, which he admitted in his statement also came from members of his own staff at The New Yorker and uninvited Bannon to the festival, which is scheduled to kick off on Friday, Oct. 5. Most of the outraged celebrities have accepted Remnick's reversal and will be in attendance as anticipated.
Bannon, on the other hand, wasn't happy about Remnick's decision at all, calling the move "gutless" in a statement to the Associated Press. "After being contacted several months ago and with seven weeks of continual requests for this event, I accepted The New Yorker's invitation with no thought of an honorarium," Bannon said.
"The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation. In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob." Remnick has not responded to Bannon's comments.
Bannon was co-founder and former executive chairman of alt-right website Breitbart News before accepting a high-level position in the Trump campaign, and ultimately serving as Chief Strategist under President Trump for seven months. The populist conservative's outspoken personality has seen him labeled by some critics as a white nationalist, which he denies.